Conquer Our 30-Day Walking Challenge

Everyone knows that physical activity is important, but did you know that it’s extra helpful for people with autism? All you need is some motivation and a pair of feet to enjoy:

Stronger muscles

Boosted immune system

Less body fat and a healthier weight

Improved mood and memory

More sleep

Reduced stress and anxiety

On top of those already-awesome reasons, there are some benefits specific to the ASD community. Try our 30-day walking challenge to discover how much a little activity can do for you. It’s a free program with easy-to-follow steps—and you don’t need to register for anything! Simply read on to learn more.

Please check with your doctor before starting any exercise program.

Exercise and Autism

Exercise is good for everyone, but people in the autistic community stand to benefit even more. For one thing, many autistic children learn to walk by toe-walking. This can lead to underdeveloped calf muscles—the best way to fix it? Practice walking heel-to-toe. 

In addition to improving motor skills, light exercise like walking is often a gateway to more challenging physical activities. It’s much easier to start small with walking or yoga than to jump straight to a team sport. Group activities are great for working on your social skills in an active environment—walking is a simple way to get yourself ready.

Want a Challenge?

Do you want to take your first steps toward a healthier lifestyle? Just put one foot in front of the other!

Safety First

Start this challenge on the right foot by making sure you’re as safe as possible. 

Use the sidewalk whenever possible. Drivers don’t always notice people walking in the road, so the sidewalk is the best option.

Walk facing traffic. In North America, that means the left side of the road—otherwise, you should be on the right side of the road. This gives you the best chance to notice vehicles passing close to you.

Cross safely. Always look both ways before crossing the street, even if you think no cars are coming.

Keep your music level low. If you’re walking with earbuds, make sure you can still hear the outside world. Sight and sound are your best defenses against the unexpected.

Wear reflective clothing when walking in the evening or at night. Make sure you’re visible at all times to reduce the chance of a driver not seeing you.

Marathon runners

Use Proper Walking Form

Believe it or not, there is a “right” way to walk. Before heading outside and starting our challenge, make sure you’re walking with the correct form. This can help you avoid putting extra strain on your joints.

Walk “heel to toe.” When you step, make sure your heel touches the ground first, followed by the front of your foot.

Stand up straight and keep your eyes ahead. You should look at the ground about 10 feet in front of you to stay aware of your surroundings.

Engage your core. Walking is a great exercise to work out your abdominal muscles. To ensure you’re using your core, breathe deeply while you walk and swing your arms back and forth.

Combat Boredom

We understand—walking can start to feel boring after a little while. If you want to keep yourself entertained while exercising, consider listening to music. You can create a custom playlist of songs that motivate you to keep you moving! Looking for something more soothing? Try the Affect Autism podcast or Autism Live episodes.

Push Yourself

Some people might find this challenge easier than others. If you think you can complete it without a problem, don’t be afraid to work a little harder. Plan a walking route that takes you over hills! You can also look for uneven surfaces like grass and trails—any changes in terrain are good for your stamina.

You can also break up your walk by changing the “walking” challenge to a walking and running challenge. Try jogging for 30 seconds, then switch back to walking for a minute.

Steps to Succeed

Keeping yourself motivated for a month is tricky, but we believe you can do it! Here are some ideas that can help you hold yourself accountable:

Day 1
Walk for 20 minutes
Day 2
Walk for 20 minutes
Day 3
Walk for 20 minutes
Day 4
Off
Day 5
Walk for 20 minutes
Day 6
Walk for 20 minutes
Day 7
Walk for 20 minutes
Day 8
Off
Day 9
Walk for 25 minutes
Day 10
Walk for 25 minutes
Day 11
Walk for 25 minutes
Day 12
Off
Day 13
Walk for 25 minutes
Day 14
Walk for 25 minutes
Day 15
Walk for 30 minutes
Day 16
Off
Day 17
Walk for 30 minutes
Day 18
Walk for 30 minutes
Day 19
Walk for 30 minutes
Day 20
Off
Day 21
Walk for 30 minutes
Day 22
Walk for 35 minutes
Day 23
Walk for 35 minutes
Day 24
Off
Day 25
Walk for 35 minutes
Day 26
Walk for 35 minutes
Day 27
Walk for 35 minutes
Day 28
Off
Day 29
Walk for 40 minutes
Day 30
Walk for 40 minutes

Schedule your walking time. Concrete goals are easier to achieve, so decide on a time for walking and stick to it!

Don’t do it all at once. There’s no need to get all your walking done in one sitting. Break it up throughout the day if it feels overwhelming.

Find a buddy. Skipping a day is easy when you participate alone. An accountability buddy can prompt you to keep up the good work even if you don’t feel like it. 

Celebrate your progress. It can be challenging to motivate yourself when you think about the big picture, so work in milestones, instead. Tell your family and friends (and our community, too) when you complete your goal each day!

After 30 days of our walking challenge, you should feel more energized, and you might feel stronger, too! We hope you’ll stay active even after you finish the challenge, because exercise is vital for a healthy life as a part of the ASD community.

Share your progress with our community on Facebook—we’d love to hear any tips that help you stay active!

Remember to check with your doctor before starting any exercise program.

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